Welcome to the 1st part of my Morris Star BOM-along with the block of the month program! I’m really excited to start this project. I have to be honest with you up front; this is one of the first BOMs that I’ve decided to join. I diligently bought into several BOM projects many, many years ago. The fact is, all the months’ projects are still nestled in their packages, nicely tucked into a plastic container. So, you may ask, why venture to start one now? Well, I just LOVE the work of William Morris! He founded an art deco style that has influenced generations. Today, he may be most known as a leading textile designer during the Craftsman era. I’m drawn to the contemporary modern aesthetic of his designs that are simplistic yet at the same time complex, big floral patterns with detailed lines for life-like prints.
I attended Quilt Market in May. One of the things that caught my attention was how many of the fabric representatives described the designer’s inspiration for the fabric as they presented each of the new collections. The Morris Star quilt design is made with fabrics from two of The Original Morris & Co. collections, Merton and Kelmscott. From studying William Morris’ as a design, his creative journey and the industrial revolution of making fabric during the mid-late nineteenth century England, my interest was piqued about the stories behind these two fabric collections. I reached out to Debbie Stark, Creative Director at FreeSpirit Fabrics to find out if they would share the backstory about the Merton and Kelmscott designs.
I learned that from Morris & Co.’s first launch with FreeSpirit it was important for the collection names and fabrics to portray the true essence of the brand, and to capture the breadth of history Morris & Co. holds. It was totally awesome to learn that the Merton and Kelmscott collections were named after locations that played an important part in William Morris’ life.
The Month 1 block of the Morris Star BOM is made with fabrics from the Merton collection, Willow Boughs Red and Willow Boughs Taupe.
Here’s the design backstory of the Merton collection…
The Merton collection is named after Merton Abbey, which was a mill that William Morris acquired around 1831. The abbey was perfect for Morris’s needs. From the Merton Abbey Works, he was able to print his own fabrics, produce woven tapestries and carpets and make stained glass. Merton Abbey, located in Merton, Surrey, was built on the River Wandle and provided a plentiful supply of water which was an important factor for Morris, as water was essential for dying and the workshops needed to print textiles. One of the main dying processes William Morris used at the time to print was indigo-discharge-printing. (I bet reproductions of these wonderful blues are reflected in the Kelmscott collection, some of which we’ll use in the Morris Star quilt. If you are interested in more fascinating details about Merton Abbey and Morris’ work there, check out the book “William Morris: Artist Craftsman Pioneer by R. Ormiston and N.M. Wells.)
I can’t say it better than what I heard in FreeSpirit’s YouTube video about The Original William & Morris Co.; the fabric of their collections incorporate the spirit, heritage and design of William Morris. And, I feel like I’m able to step back in time to make something from these wonderful fabric collections.
OK!… I’m ready to get started with the 1st block.
I signed up to get the Morris Star BOM through The Quilting Company website. I was really excited when I found the package containing the first month’s fabric and instructions in the mailbox. Yowsie! I was ready to begin. The first month directed me to make 12 Kaleidoscope Blocks.
Like most of The Quilting Company BOM programs, there are videos to provide more information about construction. I began by watching the video instruction for the Kaleidoscope Block created by Jenny Kae Parks and The Quilting Company video team. (You can see the 1st video here.) I’m an experienced quilter, but I have to admit I was glad to receive Jenny’s tips about preparing fabric for template cutting, working with bias edges and pressing seams to make these tricky patches fit together nicely.
Because I don’t make quilts that require templates very often I had questions about cutting the templates. I tried a couple of approaches with the strips but managed to align them on the fabric’s straight-of-grain to make sure I cut the right amount from the fabric I received.
I also strayed a little from the video. I chain-pieced the units, taking a couple of stitches at the end of stitching a seam, lining up the next unit and then stitching another ¼” seam to join patches for the next unit. I find chain-piecing saves a lot of time cutting threads and stops needed to wind bobbins—plus, it saves on thread needed for projects.
I completed all 12 of the Kaleidoscope Blocks in no time!
I’m looking forward to next month’s block. If I was a betting girl, I’d venture the next block to make will be the green and blue Nine-Patch to complete the 1st border.
Ah yes, anticipation; I received notice Month 2 was sent this week. Watching the mailbox…
Click here to get the Morris Star Block of the Month delivered to your mailbox each month.
P.S.: If you love the fabrics in the Morris & Co. collections by FreeSpirit Fabrics, but would prefer a throw-sized project, Jean Nolte, who designed our Block of the Month quilt, used the rich fabrics of the Kelmscott collection in Morris Garden. The organic hues of the botanic and floral prints are surprisingly dramatic, feeling both earthy and ethereal at the same time. Jean built her “garden” around a medallion in the center, and the border consists of Star blocks set on-point. The setting triangles use a print that features William Morris’ iconic Strawberry Thief motif.